26 May 2011 | Rebecca Ellinor in Johannesburg
Buyers in Africa may need
to be prepared to lose their job rather than carry out an unethical practice.
the “ultimate test”, said Karen van Vuuren, Absa CPO and deputy chairperson of
the CIPS board of management, who described a colleague who told his boss he
would rather resign than do what his manager wanted and appoint a supplier for
the wrong reasons.
Addressing delegates on
the second day of the CIPS Pan-African Conference, hosted by CIPS Southern Africa,
she said: “Our integrity is priceless. As soon as we compromise on that we have
damaged our souls.”
She said professional
expertise was essential. “I know it’s very difficult to stand up and take a
position but the technical knowledge is the key to having good, strong,
courageous conversations. Knowledge is power. Have the courage and stay firm.”
David Loseby, procurement
director at Stonegate, said he faced a similar situation in a past role in the
UK. He had a board director who wanted him to sign off a contract he was
unhappy with so he refused. “That contract didn’t get signed. I left
voluntarily three months later and I found out the director left unvoluntarily
six months later.”
He said if you’re
confident in your ability you will get another job so you need to stand firm.
“I trade as a brand and I get the next job because people have trust in me as a
procurement professional to do the right thing, to make the right decisions
even if it is under pressure and difficult circumstances.”
Misheck Kaoma, who was
also a member of the panel discussing the ethical agenda for Africa, encouraged
buyers to network with one another so they have people they can call on for
advice when they hit challenges. He also said delegates should develop a good
relationship with their boss so they are able to ‘sell’ the reasons why something
shouldn’t be done – so their boss can persuade anyone else who is, in turn,
putting pressure on them.
CIPS CEO David Noble said
unethical behaviour is the one area stopping Africa becoming a powerhouse and
said the profession has the opportunity to be a ‘beacon of light’ that
represents ethics and good practice. He pointed out that CIPS has a
disciplinary committee that deals with members who are found to be breaching
the code of conduct. He also said he will consider how CIPS can in future provide
guidance to individuals facing these difficult situations.